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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a haibun, a Japanese combination of prose and haiku. Instead of focusing on my unremarkable current environment, as the prompt suggested, I thought I’d try the Caribbean setting of this offbeat film.)

 

The ocean exhales the tide as if to cover every island,
Only to breathe back in lest its favorite peaks be lost.
Life goes on, trusting
That the sea will catch his breath.
Do islands hold theirs?
____________________

MPAA rating: Not Rated (PG-13 or maybe even PG)

Another selection from last year’s South by Southwest, Bad Lucky Goat might be best described as Adventures in Babysitting, island-style. Except that instead of babysitting kids, it’s a goat’s corpse. Doesn’t that sound like fun? What’s also unusual about this Colombian movie is that there’s plenty of English but you absolutely will need subtitles, because all the characters speak in such a thick Caribbean patois dialect that it’s hard to believe they can understand each other.

The ones doing the goatsitting are brother and sister Corn (Honlenny Huffington) and Rita (Kiara Howard), who are clearly the type of siblings who don’t get along. While on an errand for their parents, Rita accidentally runs over a goat, and they are faced with covering up both the truck repair and the body disposal. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Adventures in Babysitting as they try to gather money to pay off the mechanic and even face the threat of kidnapping. Yet, there’s more realism and exotic charm than outright comedy, and it certainly captures a poor but unique way of life, one where cock fights are still popular and a troupe of shirtless musicians make music with improvised instruments and random objects while chest-deep in a bayou.

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Occasionally, it got old watching Corn and Rita argue almost the entire time, but their eventual reconciliation felt genuine in spite of their sibling quarrels. Unless you actively love goats, they’re also sympathetic enough to hope they resolve their ever worsening problems, though Rita’s pilfering of a church collection plate lost a lot of my sympathy.

I don’t know that I’d ever seek it out again, but Bad Lucky Goat was a singularly quirky film with a likably meandering plot, some Rastafarian superstition, and a distinctive island flavor. In addition to the upbeat reggae soundtrack (much of it courtesy of Robinson and the Lazy Hill Band), the direction from film school graduate Samir Oliveros is colorful and polished with a few nice tracking shots I wouldn’t expect from a low-budget film funded as a Kickstarter project. It’s a laid-back little movie that’s only 76 minutes long, well worth a look if you’re in the mood for something different from the usual Hollywood fare.

 

Rank: Honorable Mention

 

© 2018 S.G. Liput
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